Troubleshooting Inconsistent Packaging Machinery - Conveyor Speed
For automatic packaging systems, conveyors play a large part in the set up and performance of the line as a whole. The conveyors not only move containers down the line from machine to machine, but must be taken in to account when setting up each machine to run automatic production. While troubleshooting requires analysis to discover the cause of inconsistent performance for any packaging machine, from time to time that cause will be traced back to a simple change in conveyor speed.
Set up of almost every packaging machine will depend in part on the speed of the conveyor system, from fillers and cappers to labelers and other components of the line. For example, filling machines will use indexing systems. The speed of the conveyor will be relevant to the indexing times. If an operator set up the correct indexing time, then changes the speed of the conveyor delivering the bottles, the stored indexing times will not work, leading to inconsistent performance of the machine. The exact same thing is true of rinsing machines, which also rely on indexing times for consistent cleaning of containers.
Capping machinery is less likely to rely on indexing, like the popular spindle capper. However, a change in conveyor speed can still have an effect on the performance of the capping. Spindle cappers use belts to stabilize the containers as they move through the tightening area, and spinning wheels to tighten down the closures. If an operator inadvertantly speeds up the conveyor after the machine has been dialed in, the most likely result would be tipping bottles as they move through the capping machine, with a possibility of misaligned or inconsisent seals as well.
Some machines even synchronize conveyor speed with other machine adjustments. The most typical example of this would be labeling equipment. Many labeling machines used on automatic packaging lines are synchronized to the speed of the conveyor, meaning that when conveyor speed is increased or decreased, other components, such as belt speed, will also be changed. Changing conveyor speed without adjusting the other components of a labeling machine could lead to wrinkled or misaligned labels on bottles.
While there are other factors, including wear parts, improper set up and more, that can lead to inconsistent performance on different packaging machinery, conveyor speed is always a good place to start. If an operator inadvertantly added speed or was just trying to get things done a little faster, that increase can wreak havoc on machine performance. Luckily, the fix is quite simple and finding the change in speed early can save lots of time searching for other culprits.
If you are having trouble with any of your own packaging machinery, our service department is always willing to assist. The Parts and Service team at LPS can be reached toll-free at 1-888-393-3693.